Tagline: What makes you different, makes you dangerous
Shailene as: Beatrice “Tris” Prior
Genre: Action, Adventure
Duration: 139 minutes
Written by: Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor, Veronica Roth (novel)
Directed by: Neil Burger
Other cast: Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller
Release date: March 21, 2014
Production budget: $85m (estimated)
Total worldwide gross: $288.8m
Filming locations: Chicago, Illinois
Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.
Tris: That’s not supposed to be a choice. The test should tell us what to do.
Jeanine: You’re still free to choose.
Tris: But you don’t really want that.
Tris: Were you a transfer, too? Or Dauntless-born?
Four: Are you kidding?
Four: What makes you think you can talk to me?
Tris: It… Must be because you’re so approachable.
Christina: Yes, you are.
Tris: I’m the weakest one here.
Christina: Then you’ll be most improved.
Tris: You’re Candor. You’re not supposed to lie.
Tris: You cut me.
Four: I meant to.
Tris: You meant to?
Four: You think he was gonna let you off without a scratch? You’d still be standing there if I hadn’t hit you.
Tris: So am I supposed to thank you?
Tris: It’s just Tris now.
Jeanine: Tris, I like that. You made an impressive choice, Tris, despite your parents. And your test result.
Tris: You’ve seen my test result?
Jeanine: Of course. I’m glad you were smart enough to know your own mind.
Tris: How would I help you?
Jeanine: You’re aware that Abnegation is undermining the faction system and breaking laws, harboring Divergents?
Tris: I didn’t know that. But if that’s true, then I’m glad that I left.
Jeanine: See, I need to know that I can count on you to enforce the law, even if it’s been broken by someone close to you. Someone you care about.
Tris: Of course.
Tris: If you ever come close to me again, I will kill you. You need to stay away from me! You are a coward.
Tris: It’s my fault that he’s dead.
Four: No, it’s not because of you. He made his own choice. He would have been Factionless. He was not gonna pass that final test.
Tris: Neither am I.
Four: Why do you say that?
Tris: You know why. And as soon as all the others find out, they’re gonna kill me.
Tris: Right. If I’m too good, then they’ll kill me, and if I’m too slow, then I’ll die.
Tris: Think you might be overestimating my character.
Tris: You’re right. I’m not. I’m Divergent.
Quoting: Shailene Woodley
on her character: I want people to know that Tris is normal and that she’s not a superhero. Maybe she’s an action star just because of the definition of that, but she’s not a superhero. She’s a very normal, young woman who is trying to figure herself out as well as trying to help her community. She’s sort of been given this gift of being the only one to be able to do what she’s able to do, and I don’t think that it makes her more special than anyone else. I think that she just happens to be the one who’s in the seat to do greatness.
on Tris and Christina’s friendship: Christina is Tris’ first real friend. Christina is honest, she’s confident, she’s beautiful, she’s everything that Tris hadn’t been exposed to in her previous life. She’s this new creature coming into her life and teaching her things that she had never been taught, who is open about things. That’s exciting for Tris. To have a confidante is incredibly important for the evolution of young females.
on Tris and Four’s dynamic: I love the Tris and Four dynamic because it’s so different than most young adult romances on screen. It’s very realistic. I love that it’s not necessarily a love at first sight dynamic. There’s obviously mutual attraction but respect, compassion, and trust… those things are completely separate from attraction. Throughout the film, Tris is trying to figure him out, because in one scene he’ll be vulnerable with her, and complimentary towards her, then in the next scene, he’s harsh, very strict, and very truthful to the point it induces pain in Tris. The challenge of him is very intriguing to her. When Tris and Four finally do share a very vulnerable experience together when Tris goes into Four’s fear landscape, she learns that he comes from a very broken place. Four is complex. Their budding relationship ultimately stems from them both realizing that they have pure hearts. These aren’t two lovebirds running around with weapons saving the world. These are two partners who came together, from very similar lifestyles but very different stories, and found mutual recognition and strength in each other.
on Tris and Peter’s dynamic: Peter’s a little bit like a broken tortured soul, who puts forth so much energy to make sure that others are intimidated by him. There’s a deep insecurity layered within his own heart. As much as Tris wants to hate Peter, she sees that he’s not just one layer. She tries to not let them get to her. At the end of the film, she ends up saving Peter’s life and taking him with them. Specifically she has the opportunity to kill him and she doesn’t. That comes from a place of selflessness, her Abnegation roots. She sees this broken person in this very vulnerable state and spares him, because she recognizes that he’s a soul. The training fight with Peter and Tris was intense. Learning it was really fun because neither of us had other done stunt fights before. They’re all very mechanical and cut together it looks really intense. Tris gets a few hits in, but Peter takes her down and he doesn’t stop. He’s relentless. It’s going to be a very powerful, hard scene to watch.
on Tris and Eric’s dynamic: Eric has a giant ego and many insecurities. He sees strength in Tris, he sees confidence in Tris, and he sees natural bravery within Tris. Eric is a strong person, but without necessarily the confidence to back him up, so he takes it out on Tris and pushes her and pushes her and pushes her, because he sees her as a threat.
on identifying with Tris: Tris has basically chosen to become her own person, rather than stay with her family. All adolescents can relate to that as people have to eventually leave the nest, but it’s a really hard choice for many to make. The idea of deciding the rest of your life at such a young age is very daunting, because once you leave the nest in the Divergent world, there is no going back. That’s incredibly frightening.
on Tris’ time in Dauntless: Why ultimately she chooses Dauntless is because it’s also an adventure. In this brave culture, she right away does things that she’s never done before… like jumping on and off moving trains. Living with this freedom is something she couldn’t even picture in her previous life, so everything is very exciting and empowering to her. The combat, the handling weapons; Tris has no prior experience in these departments. The fact that she could become factionless and alone, after having left her family, that really drives her fear, her vitality, her sense of life, and her will to survive.
on her attraction to the role: Ultimately what drew me to this movie is that it’s very metaphorical to things that are happening today that I’m very excited to bring to light. Reading Divergent, I became very passionate about Tris and the story.
on the physicality of the role: I love physical activities and there’s been a lot of physical training involved, which is all very exciting. Our stunt coordinators are very well versed in everything from hand-to-hand combat training, to physical fitness, to learning how to run and jump off of moving trains. Theo and I got to climb seventy-five feet up on a Ferris Wheel. My stunt double Alicia (Vela-Bailey) is such a bad ass. She jumped over sixty-five feet freefalling—no ropes attached, no nothing. I look up to her in so many ways, she’s so great, so brave.
on filming the Ferris wheel scenes: I don’t have a fear of heights, I have a fear of falling. The Ferris wheel was so simple. It looks way more complicated and way more intense than it was. We were actually on a ladder at about a forty-five degree angle and attached to safety lines. It was fun and beautiful. That night there was a full moon and it was the first lunar eclipse of the year. Theo and I got to experience that magical moment climbing up, which I’m not sure he cared about, but I thought it was pretty great.
on working with director Neil Burger: I’ve never worked with a director who shoots from such a strong visual point of view. Neil sees this film in a visual way, versus I’m used to doing movies where it’s more character driven, from a heart based point of view. This movie is going to be so beautiful to watch. Neil’s capability to create a world that doesn’t exist is unbelievable. I’m so in awe. But as actors, we couldn’t be luckier to have a director who’s so open to collaboration, who doesn’t really seem to have an ego.
on working with co-star Theo James: Silence is almost more powerful than dialogue. There are so many characteristics of a person that you can dial into when they don’t say anything. Theo’s reactions are amazing and his capability of listening is incredible. The mutual communication that we have between our eyes adds a lot to Tris and Four. […] We auditioned a lot of guys, and a lot of these actors were playing male, masculine leaders. Even if they were good, they were still acting it. Theo walked in and just demanded it with his presence. Theo is smart as a whip—he majored in philosophy and traveled the world before he even became an actor—so he’s had a full life before the industry, and he didn’t feel like he had to prove his masculinity.
on working with co-star Zoë Kravitz: Zoë has been amazing, and we have a lot in common. We have mutual friends, so before we connected face-to-face we already had a respect for each other. We have ten brothers on this movie, so it’s nice to have a sister on your arm.
on working with co-stars Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd: Tony is a kind, pure person and he had such deep respect for Ashley, and Ashley had such deep respect for Tony. It was so beautiful, they both had really phenomenal things to say about each other. It was really amazing to witness their deep reverence for each other. Ashley is such a strong woman, who I respect so deeply. I’m in awe of what she’s able to accomplish with such ease and such beauty and such raw strong humanity.
Quoting: Cast and Crew
Director Neil Burger: I’d been blown away by her in that movie because I thought she had this incredible combination of vulnerability and rebelliousness, plus arrogance. That was the perfect combination for Tris. Shailene was one of the first people that I met in the casting process and she’s an incredible likeable person. She’s very real and she’s honest. She’s a hugger and she means it. She has a real sweetness and a real young quality about her. She has these interests in being a survivalist, making due, finding what food you can eat in the forest, and living outside for days. She has it. She’s got this quality. She’s used guns before. I was really intrigued. But, she also has the girl-next-door, everyday quality to her. She can come off as not that special and at the beginning, when she’s still called Beatrice, she is the most unassuming person. But then Shai also had these athletic skills, these fighting skills, these weapons skills… she already had it and she was game for more. Once we hired Shailene, we knew we had the right person for Tris, but we also knew that we had a fierce actress. She’s really powerful opposite other actors, so you have to be really good to keep up with her.
Co-star Theo James: The nice thing is that as Shai and I became closer as friends, the scenes were developing in that way anyway. You could feed off that. In the beginning scenes, you can use that you don’t know each other, and in the later scenes, you have an ease in each other’s company and in each other’s body language. Luckily we are friends, and we have that natural chemistry, so it’s easy.
Co-star Kate Winslet: I keep saying to Shai that she does remind me a lot of myself when I was 21. Titanic does feel years away, and it was 16 years ago. When you’re carrying a film, you have to have a determination and a focus to be able to pull something off like she is. You really have to absolutely stay with it. I remember feeling as though I had to be the one leading the troops on. She very much has that spirit too, which is absolutely the way it should be. It’s really impressive to see her doing that. But it’s completely relentless. It’s like preparing for a marathon, both mentally and physically. She’s had a lot of physical challenges as well as on this, and she’s a good person, and that’s going to see her through everything.”
Co-star Ashley Judd: I absolutely admire Shai. She is carrying herself with such grace and poise. She has an infectious sense of humor and an appreciation for what she’s doing that’s also contagious. She has a great brain, and she has a beautiful heart. Not to mention the fact that as an actor she is completely the real deal. I semi-retired in 2006 and to have the opportunity to be on a movie this big, that has so much potential to have such extraordinary impact with a young woman who is coming of age as a star, and she will culminate as a star in this movie, it’s so joyful for me. It’s a bit like visiting with myself when I was 25 years old and number one on the call sheet. It’s really, really special.
Co-star Miles Teller: Shailene Woodley is a gem. She is a doll. We worked together right before this film playing love interests, which is great, so we formed a really special bond. Then to do this project less than a year later, where our characters are at odds, is great. This shoot has long days. Literally one line, you can say for four or five hours and Shailene does something different every take. She’s very gracious. I’ve never heard Shailene complain about anything. We’re all in this thing together, and this movie’s bigger than any of us. We’ve all really bonded over trying to tell this story and give moviegoers what they want.
Co-star Zoë Kravitz: Christina’s relationship to Tris is like me and Shai in real life. They have this immediate connection, like you do at school when you meet someone on the first day and you think oh my God, you’re my best friend. They’re both really honest and brave and a little scared at the same time, and they find comfort in each other. […] Shai is an absolutely phenomenal human being and actress. She’s one of the reasons I was so excited to do this film. I love what she’s doing with her character.
Producer Lucy Fisher: We were so ecstatic when we met Shai. She came in to our office and told us about what she was going to do that weekend, which was to be kidnapped by ‘a terrorist’ in an urban survivalist course. She likes to be dropped off for two weeks in Maine, and then live on her own with a gun and a hatchet. The Dauntless side was definitely there. She is riveting to watch and so honest and pure and when we found out that she was in real life a survivalist and could tote a gun, she was perfect. We thought we were going to have to meet a lot of actresses, but nobody could ever be better, so we decided very quickly that’s our girl. When her deal was done, she brought homemade cookies for every single person at Red Wagon and Lionsgate who was involved with her deal. Here comes the selfless girl and the Amity girl too. Plus she has a little Candor in her, because she’ll tell you exactly what she thinks. […] Shailene has such an honesty in the way that she approaches her work, there’s never a false beat, so Tris could never feel like an artificial role if Shai were in the center of it, because everything she does is so accessible, from a true place. We’ve come to completely adore her. There is not one moment of this that she is not in. She literally carries the entire movie. A 21-year-old girl sets the tone for all the other actors, on and off screen. She never complains and does it all with a smile… comes in and hugs everybody everyday… when she isn’t punching them.
Producer Douglas Wick: Shailene emerged pretty quickly as our favorite choice. Her work in The Descendants spoke to a screen presence. If you can hold the screen against a star like George Clooney, you’re something really formidable.
Author Veronica Roth: When they cast Shailene, I was really excited because she’s a really talented actress and that delicate face is Tris. But I was also thinking, now Tris is hers. She gets to interpret this character. What I have seen from her is just amazing… Shai is the most authentic Tris I could’ve asked for because she’s a complicated character. She’s not always very nice. She’s sometimes an impetuous teenager. She’s not always so mature in her thinking, but she is at her heart a very good and compelling character. Shai has hit all the shades of Tris, and it feels very real every time that she says or does something, like a fully developed character.
Stunt coordinator Garrett Warren: I’m not surprised that she’s able to do as much as she has. I’m surprised with how fast she recovers because to run and catch a train at twelve miles an hour is exhausting, and to do that all day long is twice as exhausting. I guarantee your body is sore the next day. Shai comes back in and she’s ready to go. She’s tough as nails. Shailene is number one on our call sheet and she is in every scene. It’s a challenge because you can’t give her a break. Shai is wonderful, but the workload is a lot of work for one person. But, she’s always happy. She’s working with stunts. She’s working with trains. Shai is in great shape physically, but when we’re doing the train work, she ran back and forth probably 40 times. It’s exhausting just watching her.
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly:
Woodley, through the delicate power of her acting, does something compelling: She shows you what a prickly, fearful, yet daring personality looks like when it’s nestled deep within the kind of modest, bookish girl who shouldn’t even like gym class.
Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist:
Woodley makes for more than uncertain enough of a hero to add detail and meaning to the implosion of this world. Not unlike The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, there’s little artifice to her performance, and the mundane honesty of her reactions create a believability that the world would otherwise lack.
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com:
Woodley, by virtue of the sheer likability of her presence, keeps you hanging on, keeps you rooting for her. She may not have the blazing, rock-star power of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games, but there’s a subtlety and a naturalism to her performance that make her very accessible and appealing. And when she needs to crank it up and kick some butt—as she does in a climactic scene with Winslet as the evil Erudite leader who’s hell-bent on eradicating Divergents and maintaining control—she doesn’t oversell it.
David Edelstein, New York Magazine:
Often these movies come down to whether you like looking at the lead actor’s face for two hours, and Divergent has a pip in Shailene Woodley. In her Abnegation phase, she allows herself to look rather plain, but her unusually dark eyes flicker in dissatisfaction with her enforced subservience: Her mask slides and is hastily reaffixed. Woodley’s responses are subtle but intense, and she ends up doing a lot of the screenwriters’ work for them. When Tris becomes a Dauntless, Woodley shows how she can’t conceal her softness — her skin flushes too easily.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:
Woodley’s strong presence allows her to be all that she can be as Tris, dividing her time between scared and self-confident.
Awards and Nominations
Below is a list of all accolades Shailene has received for her role in the film.
NOMINATED: Critics’ Choice Awards – Best Actress in an Action Movie
NOMINATED: People’s Choice Awards – Favorite Action Movie Actress
WON: People’s Choice Awards – Favorite Movie Duo (shared with Theo James)
WON: Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Actress: Action